James Branch Cabell

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by WilliamElse, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. WilliamElse

    WilliamElse Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Is anyone else a fan? He was huge in the twenties and influenced loads of later fantasy writers such as Fritz Leiber, but seems largely (and, in my opinion, unfairly) ignored nowadays.
     
  2. symbolhunter

    symbolhunter Science-Fantasy Zealot

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2011
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    43
    He is very neglected indeed, despite a superb literary ironic technique. Perhaps his very fluency in using a kind of ironic iconoclasm which subverted his characters and the sense of magic one expects in fantasy helped his decline in popularity.

    One thing, though, a great many of his works are now in the public domain and thus easily available as ebooks for those who wish to pursue an interest in this remarkable writer.
     
  3. owlcroft

    owlcroft Webmaster, Great SF&F

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Alas.

    At his zenith, Cabell was one of the leading literary lights of the nation, highly praised by such notables as H. L. Mencken. Today, he is barely an answer in a game of Trivial Pursuits.

    His chiefest problems with todays audience are two, one generic and one particular. The generic problem is the Short Attention-Span Theater attitude, that any author not in this month's release lists is some obscure figure of antiquarian note only. The particular problem is that Cabell's deliciously ironic prose is not well suited to attracting readers who think that having a subject and a predicate makes a well-formed sentence. Cabell today is, as the old saying goes, Caviar to the masses.

    There is a very good Cabell page at David Langford's Ansible site. I have one myself, but have been wrist-slapped for linking to pages I have made; the curious will no doubt be able to locate it.
     
  4. WilliamElse

    WilliamElse Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree completely with you both. It's just a shame that he has dropped so completely from public view. I think there are still many people who would love his books if they only knew they existed.

    I will be certain to check out those websites, by the way - many thanks for the information.
     
  5. symbolhunter

    symbolhunter Science-Fantasy Zealot

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2011
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    43
  6. Viti

    Viti Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've been meaning to try Cabell because Jack Vance is my favorite author and it is said they have a similar style. I have a few of his books; thinking of starting with Jurgen.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  7. crypto-willobie

    crypto-willobie New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2013
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0